“My Reflections on the Past Year”
I’ve heard this past year called many things…pandemic…isolating…fear filled…depressing…a reset…people thinking it was the end of the world…
Personally I experienced many of those things myself (except the end of the world…we won’t know the day or time, right?) If I had to give a title to the last year I would say it was “A Great Awakening.” Our lives shut down. We were not busy running from obligation to obligation anymore. We had to stay in the stillness longer than any of us have ever had to before. We couldn’t see those who meant the most to us. Worse, we weren’t allowed to hug those who we loved outside of our own homes. We felt cut off from “normal.” A simple errand of going to the store felt life threatening. We were not sure how we would handle the virus—Would it be mild? Would it be deadly? Would it sweep through our households? How long would that take? How long will we be stuck at home? So much fear was swimming around in our minds.
I found myself in a place of deep self-reflection. Sometimes it was a place of gratitude to have the time to appreciate all the good things in my life. I was grateful that my busy life was on pause so I could take time to breathe and rest and get some things done around the house that needed to get done ages ago.
After a couple of weeks, stuff started coming up that I didn’t anticipate and it was messy. I was facing places I had failed to be a good wife and mother as I was stuck at home with these people who for so long were people I saw in passing in our old busy life. Now I was having hard conversations and having to apologize for past mistakes. I actually had time to pray now which was a gift until I realized how self-reliant I had become in allowing my relationship with the Lord to become a place where I only ask for help getting out of the mess of my life that came about because I wasn’t relying on Him first and for most.
My role as Youth Minister was put on hold as the church was shut down. I felt helpless and heartbroken not knowing what to do to support the teens and their families. It was one of the hardest and most challenging Lents of my life. I hoped that Easter would bring good news and great hope that our quarantine worked and would let us go back to normal. We know that didn’t happen.
As Summer arrived we were able to come out of our homes and out of quarantine but with that came more grief and loss as all the things we look forward to in Summer being canceled. Graduations being canceled and weddings being changed to accommodate a pandemic. No Open Hours for the teens.
We found ways to make the best of it: walking around the neighborhood, writing letters, making social distancing gatherings with loved one a new way of life. The Church opened up in a new way but worth the changes to be able to worship together again. We approached the Fall with a new resolve to make it work, and for the most part, we did ok. Another spike, another season at home knowing better and doing better to get through.
Sitting here over a year later I truly believe that the Lord wanted us to wake up to all the thing that were disordered in our life. He hears our prayers for less stress, for more time with family, for people to be kinder and more empathetic towards each other, etc. In a providential way, He answered some of our prayer for giving us a time to awaken to what is really important in our lives—our relationship with Him. Our families and the way we love support each other. Community is necessary for our well-being. Reaching out past our comfort zones into the lives of other so they know they are not alone is foundational to who we are as God’s sons and daughters. He desires us to see the hurting and broken and accompany them on the journey to healing. Jesus taught us that after the Good Fridays in our lives there will ALWAYS be a resurrection. I will continue to seek the healing I need from all the grief from this last year, but I will look at life now through a heart of gratitude for all the good fruit that came as well to see how God was moving among us.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.” -Romans 8:28
- Peace in Christ
Jenn Bartley has served Holy Trinity Catholic Parish as the Youth Minister for almost 10 years. She and her family are long-time Holy Trinity parishioners and are active members in the local Brothers and Sisters of Charity order.
Sun: 7:00am, 9:00am, 11:00am
Daily Mass - Mon-Sat: 8:00am
Confession - Sat: 2:45 - 3:45pm
Holy Trinity Catholic Parish
25 East Richmond Street
Westmont, IL 60559